Promised Town

By Greenbaum, Jessica | Michigan Quarterly Review, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Promised Town


Greenbaum, Jessica, Michigan Quarterly Review


You hoped your string of tickets

would last all day, or someone's parent,

protectively wandering the Fund Fair,

would buy you more because

as it worked out, they cared for you.

Those were the two hopes.

The land behind high school had never

been bigger, or more friendly.

Your older brother's friend,

working the Treasure Chest booth,

set you up behind the mound

of keys and schooled you

in how to fish for luck. But

the main attraction was the fair

itself, that it fit, nearly uniquely,

the illustrations set before us

in books and movies, of our lives,

and now, on one blessed

let-it-last Saturday afternoon

we could try winning, wandering

to a score of circus music

as real kids. Who can explain

why our good fortune -

handmade by our parents

and carted piece by piece into

our days - why it retained

a fated weightlessness, and why

our childhoods maintained

a haunted feeling of the inauthentic,

as if we orbited outside

the promised town, outside

its Main Street, and with no relation

to the promised girl skating

on the Town Grove's frozen pond,

her magenta scarf a gift ribbon

below her very yellow blonde flip,

which was why the teacher

titled the mural "Our Winter" -

so we might be her, although

we had never seen her. …

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